Trip Report Colombia, Panama, & Costa Rica August/September 2008:
Participants: Kim Garwood, Dan and Kay Wade

Author: Kim Garwood

Details follow:

Day 1 - July 30: flew in from Colombia on Copa, went to Albrook Inn for 2 nights, $80/night.
Day 2 - July 31: visited Smithsonian headquarters in town.
Day 3 - August 1: am around Albrook Inn, pm transfered to Ivan’s B and B for 3 nights.
Day 4 - August 2: Pipeline road
Day 5 - August 3: Pipeline road 2nd day.
Day 6 - August 4: meet w/John Heppner and ATL group, drive to Trinidad Spa & Lodge 30km from Penonome, Cocle province, 5 nights. $60/night.
Day 7 - August 5: went to the waterfall and around lodge
Day 8 - August 6: went to the lodge owner’s farm, El Remiendo, 250 meters.
Day 9 - August 7: went to El Valle for the day.
Day 10 - August 8: hung around Trinidad Spa, lots of rain.
Day 11 - August 9: left Trinidad, drove to David where Heppner’s group dropped me off and the Wades picked me up, stayed the next 5 days w/them in Boquete.
Day 12 to 16 - August 10 - 14: at the Wades, lots of rain and cool weather. On Aug 14 went to Wilson Botanical Garden in Costa Rica for 4 nights. $88/night for 1, $82/night each for 2/room.
Day 17 to 19 - August 15 to 17: wandered trails at Las Cruces Biological Station/Wilson
Day 20 - August 18: moved to Osa Peninsula, 4 nights w/Steve Prchal by Corcovado, $75/night.
Day 21 to 23 - August 19 to 21: at Steve Prchal’s Ventanas de Corcovado, 100 meters.
Day 24- August 22: meet John and go to Bosque del Cabo for 3 nights, $145/night/person.
Day 25/26 - August 23/24: at Bosque del Cabo.
Day 27 - August 25: move to Hacienda Baru for 3 nights, $46/night for the room.
Day 28/29 - August 26/27: at Hacienda Baru.
Day 30 - August 28: move to Savegre Hotel de Montaña for 4 nights $150/night for 2 w/meals.
Day 31/33 - August 29/31: trails at Savegre.
Day 34 - Sept 1: transfer to Santo Domingo for a month.
First week of Sept: day trips from Santo Domingo
End of report.

Day 1 - July 30: got to Albrook Inn early, so wandered around the grounds birding & butterflying for a couple of hours. Finally got into my room about 4pm. Saw a number of standard garden and forest edge birds, nice looks at a pair of barred antshrikes.

Day 2 - July 31: finally made it to the Smithsonian to meet with Dr. Annette Aniello, who graciously take some time to show me a little of what she’s working on, rearing many larvae. It was especially interesting seeing about Adelpha larvae and pupa, how some of the adults that look so similar have such different larvae and pupa, while others with very similiar earlier stages look dramatically different as adults. It makes me realize how presumptive it is of me to try and identify many of these adult species from just a photo. Had a killer pepper steak for an early dinner, while watching a pair of keel-billed toucans preen and dry off after a short thunderstorm. They were in a cecropia tree right outside the open restaurant at the hotel, pretty stunning.

Day 3 - August 1: Many picked me at 1pm to take me out to Ivan’s B&B at Gamboa. $15 for the taxi, $35/night for Ivan’s plus $13 for dinner. A good place to stay, especially if you want to do Pipeline road. Ivan can arrange a bird guide, but I just wandered around by myself. If you want a pleasant place to hang out a few days and see some birds, Ivan’s is great. Walked down to forest edge, watched golden-collared manakins displaying. Had a very fresh female metalmark, Rhetus periander, at the edge of the woods but couldn’t get a shot. Last month there were some great blooms here, but they’ve all gone to seed.

Day 4 - August 2: After breakfast with a motmot in the garden, Ivan dropped me off at the entrance to Pipeline road, famous for birds. Had a great ant swarm just around the first corner, spend an hour or so watching antbirds dash out onto the road to catch bugs running from the ants. Great looks at ocellated antbird, as well as spotted and many bicolored antbirds. Also a beautiful pair of fasciated antshrikes that gave good looks, and several ant tanagers. The purple throated fruitcrows seem to be common there as well, near the entrance. Also had a close crane hawk further in, totally ignored me. Didn’t see many butterflies, seemed like there were fewer than in early July, but then I couldn’t find much blooming to attract them. Maybe they were all up in the canopy. Did get some nice dorsal shots of Green-celled Cattleheat/Parides sesostris, and a couple of skippers, Violet-washed Skipper/Damas clavus and a large orange and black skipper that kept buzzing me, landing on my head but very difficult to photograph, as I was alone. I hate it when they do that and you’re by yourself. A cool and overcast day, though the sun came through a few times, but it started thundering before noon and I headed back to Ivan’s by early afternoon. It’s a 2 km walk from Ivan’s to the start of the road, where there’s a guard now who takes $5 just to walk it. Have the exact amount as he hasn’t had any change either time. I only had a $20, so I paid for 2 days, still a good deal at twice the price. I had the same trouble coming in through the airport from Colombia. The tourist visa cost $5, and the woman selling them required exact change, so I had to go back up to the stores and buy some candy, which of course cost $5, to break a $20. The taxi drivers never can break a $20 either. After the entrance guard shack it’s another 2 km to get to the left hand fork to the tower, then 600 meters more. Several small groups passed me walking their dogs or jogging, or walking with their kids. It was a Saturday, so there may be more people using the road then for exercise. Almost no cars. The guard says you can’t take your car down the road now, but the Smithsonian folk can, as well as the van from Canopy Tower. I don’t think anyone can get past the 2nd gate 2 km in, so if you want to explore well down the road be prepared to hike. I still haven’t made it to the tower, didn’t get to the ‘Y’ today until afternoon, when I turned around. Maybe tomorrow I’ll try and make better time.

Day 5 - August 3: had the same ant swarm, just across the road, same participants. More butterflies today, as it was sunny. Today I walked from Ivan’s, as I wanted to chase some satyrs in the tall pampas grass on the way to Pipeline Road, along the canal. When I made it to the guard shack there wasn’t anybody there, today being Sunday. There were considerably more people out today, plus it seemed people could drive in, as there wasn’t a guard, so more traffic. Still, most of the time you have it to yourself. Got several new bugs, Creamy Metalmark or Hemmark/Nymphidium ascolia and a white Sailor, Dynamine something, both posed nicely. The Nymphidium, as usual, went under the leaves, so it’s a matter of chasing it until it goes under a leaf that you can take pictures from. In this case it went about 8' up, but I could reach it and pull it down while he stayed still. Often they go under leaves close to the ground, which makes it very difficult. Some new skippers as well, plus lots more Nymphalids. Sun is sure a big help. Also some new Longwings/Heliconians. One of my favorites, Green Longwing/Philaethria dido. Superficially similar to Malachite, but these are usually found in the forest and Malachites are more around disturbed habitat, in orchards and gardens. Got back to Ivan’s just before the rain at 3pm.

Day 6 - August 4: drive to Trinidad Spa & Lodge, Took my own taxi, using Many through Ivan for $120. Met John Heppner and the 5 other collectors at Trinidad, which used to be called Posada Ecologica Cerro la Vieja. The signs still have this name on them, which makes it a little confusing. It took about 3 hours driving from Gamboa, to Penenome then right up into the hills about 450 meters. It’s about 30 km from Penenome, 45 minutes. Heavy rain from about 2 - 4pm, so I didn’t see any butterflies at all. Nice setting, from the restaurant you look out at the steep hill. The manager tells us there is a trail, about an hour (ha!), that takes off in back of the restaurant.

Day 7 - August 5: woke to overcast skies. The moth-ers strung their collecting sheets from the hammock hooks on the porch, so that works great for them. We have our own separate block of rooms; there are 6 guys plus me, so I score my own room. The others are John Heppner, John Bedford from Toronto, Ichiro Nakamuro both of whom I know from previous trips, and 3 others who are new to me: Ed Fuller also from Canada who’s into beetles, and a father/son pair, Tom and Eric, who are particularly into Heliconids. The group was previously at Sierra Llorana lodge by Colon, and seem a little disappointed by what they’ve seen so far. It doesn’t appear to be any better here, at least on this first day. It’s cloudy most of the day, and there’re very few butterflies flying. I get good shots of a fresh Thisbe irenea metalmark, but mostly it’s just common roadside edge bugs, and not many of those. Some of us take the van 15 minutes up the road to the cascada or waterfall, park and walk in 20 minutes to where they’re building some new cabins right next to the falls. It’s a pretty place but no bugs, though it looks like it should be decent. I suspect we’re at a bad time of the year, as more species were flying a month ago and almost everything we’re seeing is quite worn. I wonder if there will be another hatch in a month or so? Ichiro and Ed hike up to the top of the cerro vieja, quite a steep climb, hoping to see some hilltopping, but they don’t see much. Ichiro does catch 2 nice hairstreaks, but I suspect he won’t be doing that climb again. This area has a lot of people living up in these hills, and the school we pass says it was built in 1924, so they’ve been living here a long time. The road to the waterfall is lined with small plots and houses, little villages and gathering places, grocery stores and small restaurants. It appears to be quite chopped and lots of non-natives planted, which probably also negatively impacts the local fauna.

Day 8 - August 6: Some of us got a ride from the lodge manager in his 4x4 truck up to the owner’s farm, called El Remiendo, about a 30 minute slow drive up in the hills but actually at a lower elevation. They’re growing all sorts of food crops here, probably for the lodge, peppers, vanilla, herbs, even black pepper on vines around tall poles stuck in the ground. There is some bits of forest around, so we wandered for the morning and saw some different species, but not many. A couple of different crescents that were new for me. We came back for lunch about 1 and by 2pm it was pouring. It had rained several times on and off during the morning, but after lunch it was a deluge. Met a guy checking in w/his group, says he lives in El Valle and he seems to know something about butterflies. Hopefully he’s going to give me some suggestions as to where to go in El Valle to find some bugs tomorrow. He said now was a good time in Panama for butterflies.

Day 9 - August 7: Drove to El Valle, met with Natalie, a young woman who Mario Bernal, the guy I met yesterday, set us up with. Mario is a top birding guide here in Panama, he’s mentioned in the Lonely Planet. He’s also one of the folks who started Ancon Expeditions, the group that arranges to fly you to Cana in the Darien. I’m very interested in going out there next spring. He says May/June/July is the best time for butterflies out there. Anyway, we get to El Valle 2 hours later, meet Natalie and do a couple of the trails there. Our best spot is up on La Mesa, at the chicken ranches. There are some tall shrubs, 20' or so, with the small white flowers that the ithominids like, and they are still blooming. When I was here 2 years ago that was a great spot, and it’s nice to see the plants are still there. Ichiro and John B. catch lots of clearwings and graciously let me go through and photograph them all that night. We get close to 15 species. Ichiro has a net that extends to close to 20', and he snatches some way off the top. My favorites are the Olyras insignis and the very different subspecies of the Thyridia psidii melantho, which is quite dark orange. The subspecies I’m used to in South America look very much like Methonas, clear amber, but this one in Panama is more of a tigerwing, very beautiful. It makes for a long day, with a 2 hour drive each way, but we’re glad we went. Mario also tells us about his mother’s cabins for rent, $43 for 2. They look very nice, Cabanas Potosi, and I think Heppner’s going to spend a night there on their way back.

Day 10 - August 8: Just spend the day around the lodge, walking some of the dark muddy trails. Don’t find much, but John B. gets a nice pair of Yellow-trailed Swallowtails/Battus lycidas. I don’t think I would come back to Cerro la Vieja. The lodge is very nice, the food is good, it’s quiet and relaxing, but just not enough unchopped forest if you’re looking for butterflies or birds. The price is reasonable, $2,150 for 7 of us for 5 nights, including all meals and drinks, so you can’t complain.

Day 11 - August 9: Drive to David, which takes about 5 hours. The Wades meet us at the Super Baru market, which is the nice supermarket in town. We have a tasty lunch in the cafeteria next door, and I say goodbye to John Heppner and his group. They’re off to Finca Suiza, a nice place to stay half way between David and Chiriqui Grande on the Caribbean coast. It’s up in cloud forest, about 1,100 meters, with lots of steep muddy trails and a open area that should be good for moths at night. They’re surrounded by good forest, and no lights. I’m spending the next 5 days at Dan and Kay’s home in Boquete. The Wades tell us they had 30" of rain in Boquete in July, which is 3 times what they had last year. May also was very wet, with 40". September/October is usually their wettest time of the year, so this year is much wetter than normal. That is probably knocking down the numbers we’re seeing, both due to lack of sun and maybe to mold or fungus hurting the larvae. So this isn’t a good year for butterflies in Panama.

Day 12 - 16: lots of rain and cool weather around Boquete at 1,400 meters, so we see few butterflies. Much of our time is visiting, eating, generally having a good time. Dan & I one day hike up the Culebra trail and see a few species, but do better with birds. When the sun does poke through we get some butterflies flying in the Wades’ garden, where they have lots of porterweed and lantana, but the sun never stays out very long. They have lots of one or more of the Dircennas, and we get some good shots of one that wants to sit in the driveway on our last morning. We drive to the border at Rio Serena, which takes about 2.5 - 3 hours, and leave the Wades’ car at the police station, then cross to Costa Rica, catch a taxi to San Vito for $15, hit an atm and catch another cab to Wilson Botanical Garden, This is a lovely place run by OTS, part of the Las Cruces Biological Station, where I’ve wanted to spend some time for years. It looks quite nice, lots of birds in the afternoon.

Day 17 - 19: this place is great! Nice rooms, fabulous food, good forest. The only down side is we have lots of rain. They tell us this year there wasn’t much of a dry season, which usually runs from December to March. The rains started in February and have just gotten wetter all year. Every day it clouds up by mid morning and is raining fairly heavily by noon, even though we wake up to clear blue skies and sunshine. It’s at 1,200 meters, and gets quite cool in the late afternoon with all the wet. Sometimes I actually get under the blanket in my room before dinner. The food is delicious, some of the best of the whole trip. They have a long trail, the Rio Java trail, that goes into the next door primary forest and connects to several other loop trails. These trails are only available to visitors who spend the night, so we have them almost entirely to ourselves. Lots of people come to visit the gardens as day trips, but staying here is the way to go. I’ll definitely be back, maybe in April or May, to try the start of the rainy season. We see lots of Ithomiinae, both clearwings and tigerwings. Dan gets killer shots of Cyane Emperor/Doxocopa cyane. The resident naturalist gives me a copy of a butterfly list made in 1996 by Isidro Chacon, which is very nice of her. He includes a variety of habitats around Las Cruces, all around 900 to 1,300 meters.

Day 20 - August 18: catch a taxi to Golfito, 30,000 colones, just under 2 hours away on the coast. From there I take a local lancha, or boat, for 2,000 colones across the gulf to Puerto Jimenez, where I catch another taxi out to Steve Prchal’s place, up by Corcovado National Park. He’s raising some butterflies and working on getting a small reserve going, and was recommended by a friend who knows him from Tucson. The exchange rate is around 560 colones/$1, I just use 500/1 so I can do it in my head. The 2nd taxi gets $20 anyway, he doesn’t want colones. Steve tells me he paid $25 the day before, when he came back, so I got a deal. Steve’s place, Ventanas de Corcovado, is a little rough, as he lost his business partner 2 years ago to cancer, who was planning on contributing a big chunk of change. But then that didn’t happen, so lots of things are sort of half way completed. But Roci, his cook and all around handyperson, does a bang up job on meals, and the room is simple but nice, looking out on 2 sides to the forest. No a/c but it cools off to abour 74 most nights, and this way I can hear the birds and jungle sounds. Roci, who grew up here, lives across the river, so she wades through several times a day to come cook for us. Including going back at night in the dark after dinner. Now that’s service! One time shortly before I came she says it was up to her chest, and her feet were pretty banged up hanging on in the gravel as she crossed. Mujer fuerte.

Day 21 to 23 - August 19 to 21: I hike around and explore the area. Steve doesn’t have any trails on his property, so one day I walk up the road and cross the river to Bolito, his neighbor who lets Steve’s guests use her trails. The river is fairly deep, as we are in the rainy season, so it’s more than knee deep. I use water sandals, then change to hiking boots on the other side. If you used rubber boots they would fill up. Most of the locals, who cross these rivers all the time, either use croc-type plastic shoes or just empty their rubber boots after they cross, or carry their shoes and cross barefoot. Bolito has a backpackers place up a km or so through the forest, so I hike up to their tents. Very few butterflies, even though the forest looks nice. A few satyrs, a Pierella and a Cithaerias (the gorgeous pink tipped one), but almost nothing else. Some good birds, however. Close encounter with orange-collared manakin males, which is fun. One day I drive over w/Steve to visit another lodge, Bosque del Tigre, and Liz the owner invites me to come back and hike their trails. We have to cross the river twice to get to her place, and it looks pretty deep to me, but Steve drives right through. So a few days later I walk over, about 2 km, and take her up on her generous offer. They’re more of a birding lodge, and have feeders around, and know their birds. They confirm that I’ve been seeing white-crested coquette on Steve’s porterweed. Their trails go up their hill to a dirt road on the other side of their property. Again, nice forest, a few birds, no butterflies, but plenty of mud. I’m suspect I’m here at a bad time of the year, and maybe in a low year, due to the heavy rains. But every time I go out I stumble across something. One day I get good shots of Sarota gyas, one of the small metalmarks with hairy legs. They look like little flies zipping around, until one stops and you get your binos on it. Another day I find a cooperative Calospila, a gorgeous orange metalmark that likes to land under the leaves. But he lets me get good dorsals and ventrals. Another time a new Vettius, one of the gorgeous skippers.

Day 24/26 - August 22/24: get a cab from Steve’s into Puerto Jimenez, $25, to the office of Bosque del Cabo, then with their driver to the pier to meet John. He’s had to fly into Golfito and be ferried across the gulf, because the airport is closed at Puerto Jimenez. Then we go out to Bosque del Cabo for 3 nights. This is a gorgeous place, 750 acres at the very tip of the Osa Pennisula, with fabulous ocean views. It’s the most expensive place we stay for the trip, at $145/night each, including 3 tasty gourmet meals. They have all 4 species of monkeys, scarlet macaws, lots of birds, and nice trails. They also have 2 naturalist guides, 1 for birds and 1 for butterflies and frogs. Phil is the butterfly/frog expert, and he’s very helpful. I had met him a couple of years ago, when he came up to Tamaulipas, Mexico for Sonia’s El Cielo festival. He graciously gives me his excel spreadsheet with his weekly butterfly counts for the last 3 seasons. He tells me that March is the peak butterfly month, towards the end of the dry season, then the numbers fall pretty quickly as the rains build up. September/October are the rainiest months, where it can rain all day, day after day. It’s very interesting talking to someone who’s lived here the last 8 years, and kept records of what he’s been seeing. So maybe I should come back in the spring. The rains stop in November, and he says the butterflies start to build from that point on. The only problem is the dry season is the high tourist season, from December to March, which means higher prices and crowds. Can’t have everything. Phil also shows us lots of frogs one night at the frog pond he put in, and we get great shots. One day I hike down 500' to the beach, a steep trail but great looks at monkeys all the way down the hill. It would be very interesting to come back in March and see how different it is. We have 2 beautiful days, with lots of sun most of the day and rain at night. The first night it pours during dinner, Phil says his rain gauge shows 5+ inches in less than an hour. The next 2 nights it’s clear, nice sunset, spectacular stars after dinner, but rain during the night.

Day 27/29 - August 25/27: we have a cab take us from Bosque del Cabo to Hacienda Baru, 3 kms north of Dominical on the beach. $180 for the transfer, which takes a little over 4 hours. Hacienda Baru is a wildlife refuge, 350 acres, more trails. We get a very nice house, 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, a kitchen and a screened in porch, very comfortable. Simple but a lot more than just a hotel room. Too bad we didn’t bring our own food. The only problem is our rooms seem to have lots of tiny ants, the kind that race around. They don’t bite, but you keep getting them on your arms or legs, either when you’re on the bed(s) or in a chair. Not hundreds, but one every 5 or 10 minutes. Just enough to be annoying. They have a restaurant onsite, with average food. Some nice trails, through sandy soil, palms, wet swampy forest, and they have a nice butterfly house, well maintained. $46/night for the room and breakfast, plus extra for the other meals. Rain most of the afternoon we arrive, but the next day is light clouds and sun, no rain. A few butterflies in the woods, and a nice bare-throated tigerheron stalking on one of the many streams. One day we take the teak and canal trail, which starts in their teak plantation, then goes into more swampy forest, where the trail is just above the water level, often with water standing on both sides. Very interesting trail, and I find a couple of new metalmarks, Northern Setabis/Setabis lagus, nice shots of both male and female, and Victrix Metalmark/Metacharis victrix. In the sunny mornings there are Cattlehearts/Parides flying around, and lots of Longtails/ Urbanus and some other common skippers in the gardens. On the beach one day I have a fly by of Orabilis Kite-Swallowtail/Eurytides orabilis, but unfortunately he doesn’t stop long. This lodge includes 3 km of protected beach, where turtles come ashore to lay their eggs, and it’s quite wild looking. The owner tells me they get 4,400 mm of rain a year, almost 4 and a half meters, which is quite a lot. We seem to be getting into wetter and wetter environments.

Day 30 - August 28: Time for one more check of the beach, and I get one of the first Salianas to sit for photos, plus dorsal of one of the Cattlehearts. Then we have a cab pick us up and take us to Savegre Hotel de Montana, about 80 km from San Jose. $150/night for 2, including meals.We go up and over the pass at 3,200 meters, and do a brief stop at Georgina’s famous restaurant. They have hummingbird feeders out back, where I get close up looks at Fiery-throated Hummingbird. This is a busy cafeteria plus tasty looking panaderia(bakery), and I wouldn’t mind spending more time here. We get to Savegre, 9 km down (and it’s really down!) from the highway at about 2,200 meters, where it rains the rest of the afternoon, but we get to watch nice hummingbird feeders at their restaurant. The hummers don’t seem to mind the rain and put on quite a show. No butterflies, maybe the next couple of days will be better. Orange-bellied trogon flies right into our little garden area in front of our room and sits on the back of the bench. The restaurant is very posh looking and they have an extensive menu, but we find out they usually have a buffet when there’s more people. I understand why they do the buffet thing, but it’s better when we can order from the menu.

Day 31/33 - August 29/31: wander the trails at Savegre. Lovely sunny morning, and 3 species of Dartwhites/Catastictas, right in the gardens. Lots of birds, I find a quail-dove nesting very close to our doorway, which amazes me. Large flocks of sulphur-winged parakeets buzzing around. All in all, a very interesting location. The local bird guide tells me March is the best time for butterflies, not now, it’s too rainy. It’s sounding more and more like I need to come back in March. One morning the owner comes to our porch and asks me if I want to see a quetzal. Of course I say yes, and he leads us to a pair hanging out by one of the cabins. Very nice.

Day 34 - September 1: transfer over the Cerro de la Muerte to Santo Domingo, a suburb of San Jose, actually north of San Jose. We’re renting an apartment near INBio Parque, where I plan to spend some time working with their collection, photographing specimens. An unexpected treat is Ichiro Nakamura, who’s renting the other apartment for the first week of September. He’s been collecting around Costa Rica for a number of years. This is his 8th trip, so he knows all sorts of great spots to go. And he has a car! So he very graciously takes me out on several days to different locations that he likes. One day we go to the Orosi Valley, up above the small pueblo of Muñeco. Ichiro fearlessly drives his small rental car up a terrible road until we have to park and walk uphill. We leave the car about 1400 meters and climb up to about 1750, through wonderful forest. This is some of the best butterflying I’ve had in Costa Rica or Panama on this trip. A beautiful sunny morning and some great bugs. I get good shots of a huge satyr, Drucina leonata, that is perching up on the end of branches and guarding his territory, very un-satyr like. Another killer species, one I’ve wanted for a while, is Greenish Mimic-white/Lieinix viridifascia. Good birds, too. I see another species of quail-dove, this one buff-fronted, spotted wood-quail, and a pair of spectacled owls that I flush. Another morning Ichiro takes me to the other end of the Orosi valley, to Tapanti. We go up another bad road next to the Tapanti National Park, park about 1300 meters and walk. More goodies. Almost all different species from the other day, even though we’re fairly close to the other location and only a couple of hundred meters lower. Several unknown grass skippers and a number of clearwings. Ichiro told me the white flowers are here that the clearwings like for alkaloids, one of the only times you ever see them stopped. Many of my Ithomiinae photos are on these small white flowers. I get our target species, Ithomia terra, plus other clearwings as well. Another day Ichiro and his friend Mario Posla go to Rodeo, at the University de Paz, and I tag along. We stop along the road on the lower level where there are houses and lots of porterweed planted by the road. Lots of skippers, including a Narcosius. To get into the higher part you have to register at the office gate, show id, then go get the key to the upper gate, but the guys have done this many times before. There is a wonderful flowering tree right next to the guard gate where we see many good things, including some rios that we also find in northern Mexico like Rhetus arcius and a different ssp of the Pixie/ Melanis pixe. Further up the road, after getting around a recently downed tree, we park at about 1,000 meters and walk. This is a great place, lots of butterflies, including Broad-banded Page/Siproeta superba. This is one of the best locations in Costa Rica for this species. Mario is looking for the host plant for the superba, and gets a female which he will hope to get eggs from to try and raise. Lots of tigerwings also, most of which don’t ever land, and lots of Common morphos, this is marinita subspecies of helenor. Large numbers of a variety of satyrs as well, many of which are willing to pose. You could come here lots of times; it would be a very interesting place to work throughout the year.